What Are the Rights of Same-Sex Couples in Australia?

Romantic relationships with the same-sex are surely a delicate issue. Either with religious groups or just the social stigma, the LGBT community has struggled for equal rights in comparison with their heterosexual counterparts.


This clamor of rights pushed the Australian Government for elections via postal plebiscite to legalize Same-Sex Marriage after numerous failed attempts by the LGBT community.


The citizens have until August 23 to either enroll to vote or update their information. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will tabulate the ballots. Results are expected by November 25.


If the results are “yes”, if everything comes in order thereafter, same-sex marriage might be legal this Christmas.  

But even without its legalization, what are the legal rights of LGBT couples in the present?


To Register as a “De Facto” Couple

  To Register as a "De Facto" Couple  

A “De Facto” relationship is a couple, either of the same or opposite sex, living together in domestic basis provided that they are not legally married or are related by family.


Not all Australian Territories are keen towards accepting Same-Sex “De Facto” relationships. But these states have the acknowledgment of such.


The conditions might differ per state. These are the links to their specific requirements per allowing state:


Registration of your relationship bestows rights to you which are previously not available to same-sex couples. This registration enables same-sex couples the same rights as to:

  • Partner concession card benefits

  • Bereavement benefits if a partner dies

  • Exemption of the family home from the assets test when one partner enters nursing home care and the other partner continues to reside there

  • Recognition as independent for Youth Allowance if in a same-sex relationship for over 12 months

  • Lesbian relationships recognized as a qualifying relationship for Widow Allowance

  • War Widow or widowers pension

  • Access to the Child Support Scheme

  • Access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare safety nets as a family

  • Allowing private sector superannuation trustees to make same-sex couples and their children eligible for reversionary benefits

  • Enabling reversionary benefits from Commonwealth (defined benefit) superannuation schemes to be conferred on same-sex partners and the children of same-sex relationships

  • Tax concessions


Source: Australian Government: Department of Social Services


Limitations in Comparison to Marriage

Limitations in Comparison to Marriage

Image Credit: CNN


De Facto relationships can be “Marriage-Like” but still has limitations.


The end of a de facto relationship can lead to complications as to property settlement and entitlement to spousal maintenance. In a de facto relationship, it should be proven that (at least one of the following):

  • That the period for the de facto relationship is at least 2 years

  • That there is a child in the de facto relationship

  • That the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory

  • When assessing property or custodial claims in cases of a breakdown of a relationship, it is recognized that significant contributions were being made by one party and the failure to issue an order would result in serious injustice


Source: Family Court of Australia


As to marriage, it is enough to be married to carry-on to property and spousal maintenance by the court.


Also, in cases of death, the de facto couple has the right to receive government bereavement and their partner’s superannuation.


But then, the surviving partner has to often prove the existence of the relationship to be next of kin in the death certificate.


Which again stems discrimination for same-sex couples because a heterosexual surviving partner just needs to be married to be considered next of kin.


Rights to a Partnership Visa

  Rights to a Partnership Visa  

If you are currently with a Non-Australian Partner, applying for a Partnership Visa might be the answer to your prayers for forever.


What’s good is that same-sex couples may also apply for a Partnership Visa. Also, the difficulty to apply is almost the same as compared to heterosexual couples.


The couple needs to:

  • Be over the age of 18

  • Be in a 12 month de facto relationship prior to application (not necessarily registered)

  • Show a continuing and genuine relationship with your sponsor

  • Show that you and your sponsor are mutually committed to each other to a shared life

  • Show that you are living together (or living separately is just temporary)

  • Meet health and character requirements


Some special cases might be considered to waive the 12-month rule. This can vary as mutual guardianship of a child or home country laws that prohibit same-sex de facto relationships. It is best to ask an Australian migration expert for such cases.


To complete the application, this is a link to the processes to obtain one.


Right to Adopt

Right to Adopt

Image Credit: Good Men Project


In the past, the debate for same-sex couple parenting is widely rejected. It is on the premise that it led to more abuse or a significantly disadvantaged life for the child.


But then, a review of the evidence shows that, with just a “convenient” sample size, the study does not prove to be conclusive. No scientific data prove such claim.


In other words, there is no study that children raised by same-sex couples came to be maltreated, belligerent, or disadvantaged.


With the welfare of the child in consideration and with the previous connotations addressed, it was allowed for LGBT couples to adopt children.


As of February 2017, same-sex couples are now legal to adopt in almost all states except the Northern Territory. This is after a long legal battle that led to the amendment of numerous laws across all states.




With these legal privileges in place, the LGBT community is close to their cry for equality. As for now, let’s wait and see for Australia’s decision.


Disclaimer: this article aims to be just an informative article with regard to the rights of same-sex couples as of writing. The rights listed above might be partly or fully repealed when succeeding legislation arises. Please be guided accordingly.

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.


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